Juanita senior King Kotalas wrestles at 126 pounds for the Rebels this season. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

Juanita senior King Kotalas wrestles at 126 pounds for the Rebels this season. Andy Nystrom / staff photo

King Kotalas: Juanita’s wrestling royalty

Senior Rebel sports a 16-2 record at 126 pounds.

Make way for King Kotalas, a Juanita High senior wrestler who has been pounding out an abundance of wins on the mat this season.

Grappling at 126 pounds, the Rebel sported a 16-2 record at press time and will next hit the mat with fellow Kirkland wrestlers at the 3A sub-regionals, which will begin at 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday at Edmonds-Woodway High.

In his fourth year with the Rebels, Kotalas credits his hard work with solid practice partners as the reason for his dominance in the wrestling realm. He wrestled at 106 as a freshman and has moved up about seven pounds each season to where he stands now.

Last season, he made it all the way to the Mat Classic state tournament for the first time and went 1-2, just one win away from placing. He’d like to return to the prep wrestling promised land at the Tacoma Dome on Feb. 15-16.

On the state scene in the massive dome, Kotalas noted: “The crowd was amazing. It also made me nervous, all the people looking at you on this one mat. It was awesome but I wasn’t mentally prepared yet for that kind of crowd.”

Kotalas lost his first match, but rebounded to taste victory.

“So much was going through my head. I knew that I worked too hard throughout the season just to give up, so I battled through my second match and got a pin,” said the grappler, who lost his third match to exit the tourney.

The Rebel won his 3A KingCo weight class last season and took fourth place at regionals to qualify for state. He learned to always stay prepared and warmed up for matches in order to reap success.

“This year, I began to warm up more and get myself kind of sweaty before matches, so I’m ready to wrestle before I get out on the mat,” said Kotalas, adding that hard work, dedication and discipline are always on his side. He favors the top position when matches commence and likes unleashing armbars, tilts and more on his opponents.

Along with fighting it out during matches, he said that surrounding himself with stellar teammates who provide encouragement have a hand in helping him become a better wrestler.

The Reporter asked Kotalas a series of questions for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his life.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Kirkland?

Chick-fil-A.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When people are chewing with their mouth open, and that gets you so mad. Yeah.

What’s your dream vacation spot?

I wanna go to Hawaii or Cambodia, that’s where my parents are from.

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?

Just work hard and keep your head up.

What’s your favorite movie of all time?

I like the “The Lion King.”

If you go to dinner with one person, who would that be?

LeBron James.

What super power would you like to have?

Super strength.

• Wrestling notes

In other action, notable Lake Washington High wins over the last week came from DeRon House at 106, Kai Furutani at 113, Max Reisman at 120, Jackson Lux at 126, Kyle Earl at 132, Ryan Watson at 152, Ian East at 152/160, Haney Elshaer at 160, Donovan Acevedo at 170, Gabe Bivens at 182, Faris Khilfeh at 195 and Spencer Webb at 220.

Complete information for the 2A/3A KingCo final standings was not available at press time.

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